Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Marriott Uses Fair Trade Coffee, No Change in Meal Plan Prices

Georgetown’s cafeteria management company, Marriott, officially complied with a GUSA resolution encouraging coffee vendors and distributors to offer only Fair Trade coffee in all of its facilities. Monday’s decision will have no effect on meal plan costs, according to university Dining Services. The Corp, however, has yet to agree with the standards set forth in the resolution, justifying its decision by maintaining that student opinion is against the move.

Director of Food and Beverages for university Dining Services Jeannie Quirk said that the food committee has been working with students for months trying to exclusively offer Fair Trade coffee in the New South and Darnall cafeterias. She further explained that her office spoke with distributors in order to get the right flavors and varieties to correspond with student choices. “[Fair trade coffee] is not related to the cost of a meal plan,” Quirk said.

Georgetown Students for Fair Trade President Stephanie Green (SFS ’05) was excited about the change. “Marriott has not switched Center Grille and the Starbucks kiosk to 100 percent [Fair Trade] yet, although both places have Fair Trade as an option,” Green said. “But it’s great that the cafeterias are 100 percent now.”

Green now wants to focus on convincing The Corp to meet the terms of the resolution. “We want students to know that The Corp has not switched . There is a lot of confusion since the GUSA resolution passed and now a lot of students think The Corp switched too,” Green said. “MUG still does not offer the Fair Trade option, due to lack of space.”

Corp President Kelsey Shannon (COL ’04) defended his organization’s decision to maintain a choice between regular and Fair Trade coffee. He said that The Corp has supported Fair Trade from the beginning, serving it in Uncommon Grounds, The idnight Mug and Vittles. “Our feeling is that, although it is something we really do support, the support for it on campus is not strong enough to motivate us and we would not be living up to our goal of serving students,” Shannon said. “There is a significant part of the university and students that want a choice.”

He also explained that although Fair Trade coffee currently costs only 10 cents extra, the Corp has absorbed most of the cost and cannot do so if it exclusively offers Fair Trade. “We have to maintain a margin and not lose money,” Shannon said.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Corp, 65-70 percent of students were in favor of keeping the system as it is. “Even among the 30 percent who wanted to go all the way with Fair Trade coffee, about half were not willing to pay [extra] for it,” Shannon said. “[GSFT] is a very opinionated and organized group doing a good job presenting its issue . but there are a lot of people who don’t believe that Fair Trade as a monopoly on campus is a really good option.”

Student Hank Hattemer (COL ’06) expressed concern over the resolution and its possible ramifications. “The fact that nine committee members voted on something that could raise meal plan costs is ridiculous,” Hattemer said.

GUSA representative and co-sponsor of the resolution Luis Torres (COL ’05) was satisfied with the decision by dining services. “Because there was no long-term contract or other binding document, there are no cost implications for our students and, as far as meal plans go, there will be no price increases/hikes due to the Fair Trade switch,” Torres said.

He also said that the next step would be to meet with the leaders of The Corp to work on an implementation plan that will allow for a complete conversion to Fair Trade coffee at the student-run coffee shops. “This is a bold move, one that will surely put Georgetown at the forefront of the social justice cause and my hopes are that this decision will come sooner rather than later,” Torres said.

GSFT Secretary Emily Conger (COL ’05) said that the exclusive sale of Fair Trade coffee was completely reasonable for students. “We do not feel that we are doing a disservice to the student body or limiting their options by doing this.”

Marriott plans to carry only Fair Trade coffee in the new Leo O’Donovan dining hall on the Southwest Quadrangle when it opens next fall.

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